Caught Up In The Rapture: Baby Tate
The enigmatic rapstress Baby Tate connects with Remy Ma for a powerful discussion on artistry, the healing power of rap, and colorisim in the rap industry
The enigmatic rapstress Baby Tate connects with Remy Ma for a powerful discussion on artistry, the healing power of rap, and colorisim in the rap industry
Photography: Conor Cunningham
Styling: Anna Trevelyan
Text: Remy Ma
Oscillating between animated lyrics and powerful production, Baby Tate’s catalog of thumping, affirmation-like tracks have cemented her as a definite force-to-be-reckoned within the rap game. Discussing the current state of the industry and her skyrocketing success, Baby Tate sits down with hard hitting OG, Remy Ma as the pair offer insight into the female-takeover of Hip Hop, early influences, and hopes for the future of the genre.
Read the exclusive interview below!
REMY MA: Hi Baby Tate. How are you? Is it Baby? Tate?
BABY TATE: Hi Remy, you can call me Tate. My actual name is Tate, so you can call me Tate.
RM: It's not short for anything. It's just Tate, that's dope.
BT: Yeah, that's my government name.
RM: There's not too many of us, people have the rapper name and you hear their real names and you're like, "How did we get to this?" It's annoying though sometimes, when I go places, I have all types of aliases when I am in hotels and stuff like that. Or if I'm trying to be low, I got my mask on, I got my shades on. They think they recognize me, but they’re not sure. And then I gotta swipe my credit card or something and it gives it away.
BT: They're like "I know exactly who you are."
RM: But you ain't know nothing, you assumed! I just confirmed it. But it's good to speak with you, I saw you for a second when we were at the BET Hip Hop Awards recently. But you were doing the interview, you looked really cute, by the way.
BT: Thank you, thank you. You looked beautiful on the red carpet in that all green.
RM: Thank you. I was in the background with my hand sweating like, "Oh my God." They're like, "So you're gonna drop the coat?" I'm like "I'm not dropping the coat. That's it, I'm wearing it. Y'all got me in it. I'm not dropping the coat. So just give it up."
I tried, I got half way down the carpet, I was like "I just can't, I can't." You know what it is? If I'm around my man or my friends I could be a little bit more me. But when it comes to being "fake sexy" in front of other people, I turn into a whole goofball. I become mad awkward, I just feel stupid. I feel like I look stupid. Let me just stick to what I know.
BT: No, you looked so good.
RM: Thank you so much. I appreciate it. For the people that may not know or may not be familiar with who Baby Tate is, what made you pursue rap? Because you sing very well, too. I think you're equally as good as a singer as you are as a rapper. How did you fall in love with the genre?
BT: Thank you. First of all, I appreciate that. But honestly, I started making music when I was 13 because I feel like I just love music. One of my favorite songs is "I Love Music" by The O'Jays. No matter what it is, no matter what the genre is, I just love good music. And so growing up I was exposed to a lot of different genres, different artists. The first female rapper I ever really heard was Monie Love. Her album In a Word or 2 is still to this day, one of the only physical CDs that I own. And I just fell in love with her storytelling and how fun it felt because with singing, that's something that's way deeper and you gotta get into super crazy emotions.
But with rap, it was just so fun. And [Monie] is telling me stories and I'm feeling like these things are happening to me too. I'm feeling like I'm arguing with somebody as well. And so it made me wanna do the same thing and be fun, witty, and creative. All of the rap I grew up listening to was fun. And I was like, "I wanna do this too."
RM: Have you ever met Monie Love?
BT: I've never met her. I haven't met her yet. I would love to meet her though, she is really one of my biggest inspirations.
RM: I got this terminology for her, "My Sister in Rhyme." She is everything. However you would think that she is based on her music, that's how she is. A lot of times I've noticed in the industry, you'll have people that you like and then you meet them and you're like, "Oh my God." Monie is one of those people that shares information, every time I talk to her, every time I see her, I get some type of jewel from her. She is as inspiring in person as she is in her music. I love, love, love Monie. Now, as far as rap being more fun, see, I always wish I knew how to sing!
BT: I feel like rappers, or even if you just don't know how to "sing," people always want to sing. And then people who can sing always want to rap.
RM: There's no quote unquote, you either know how to sing or you don't. There's certain people that still sound good with auto tune and all the little tweaks, I don't want that. I can do that, I've mastered that. I've never put any songs out like that, but I've mastered that. Every now and then I be like, "God, could you just throw me down a little Whitney [Houston] with some Toni Braxton, Brandy" one of those [artists] where when they're singing, you just hear it humming out. But I felt like how you felt with rap the same way growing up. Prior to that, I was probably about like 11 or 12, I would write poems.
And then one day I had said one of my poems that rhymes over a beat and it just changed something. It was just something that clicked. I was like, "Oh, I like this." And like you said, it was fun. It was something that didn't even feel like work, it was pretty much effortless. So I totally understand how you get that feeling. I'm assuming you were always musically inclined. Anybody who has a voice, I feel like there's always the videos that come out when they're like two, three years old singing Christmas songs. Tell me a bit about your experience coming into the industry. What was it like entering the industry as a female in this male dominated industry? Brown, with all that melanin magic going on, not a size zero—some of the things that seem to be mandatory at some point. To me at least, they got a little checklist that if you don't qualify, you tend to have a different path. Tell me a little bit about your experience coming into the industry.
BT: When I first started my career, it was very underground and very DIY. I was just taking every opportunity that I could find, whether I was performing in literally somebody's basement or somebody's backyard. Just making every moment I could happen so that I could gain one new fan today. And so for me, when I finally really busted into the industry, I built a fan base that was already familiar with my music and familiar with what I was doing. And I've always been the type of person that's never been in a rush to gain "success" or feeling like, "Oh, why hasn't Baby Tate blown up yet?" It's like, I may not have blown up to you. Or maybe it's just not that time yet, I'm not on somebody else's time.
RM: People love giving what their expectations of success is to you. You can't tell me what success is to me. I've had that very argument so many times where people were like, "Oh, well you don't got this," or "You not doing it." And I'm just like—based on my checklist that I have of the things that I wanna accomplish, not that you feel I need to accomplish to be validated, I'm doing pretty good.
BT: Exactly. I feel that way too. And so for me, I've been making music and putting music out for almost seven years now. And it just started very organically. I really appreciate my journey and the growth naturally that I've been able to have. Because a lot of times people are like, "Oh my God, why is so and so just doing this one song and then they blew up? What about Baby Tate" And I'm like "Hey, we don't need to do that." I have my own journey and I wanna be in this industry for a long time because like I said, I love it. I love music, I wanna make it forever. And so my journey in this industry has just been one of that. I'm just taking my little, no pun intended, baby steps and I'm getting to where I need to go.
RM: So are there any obstacles specifically that you feel that you've had to face? Whether it is because you are female, dealing with male counterparts, making sure that you show you're just as good, if not better, than them.
BT: Yeah, I feel like I have quite a few obstacles as a brown skin, Black woman. That's already three obstacles that were placed upon you that you didn't ask for. I have a lot of issues with other people feeling like, "Oh, colorism is affecting your career, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." And I know that colorism is very real, but for me, I've just always hated how people try to compare like brown skin and light skin girls and the level of success that we reach.
RM: You know what's crazy? The fact that you said the word brown skin, because I don't even hear that word anymore. I grew up always hearing that I was brown skin and when I got into the industry, I wasn't brown skin anymore. You're either brown skin or you're light skin and obviously, I fall in the dark skin category. And I heard a lot of the similar things that you heard as well. But I love my brown, dark skin. I wouldn't change it for anything in the world, I would not change it. But what would happen sometimes is that when you are brown or dark-skinned and you have talent, people say like "Oh, you're pretty for a dark skin girl," or "You're talented for a brown girl."
So when you have that talent with it, it actually accentuates it. You're like, "Yeah, I'm dark skin, whatever, and I'll rap my ass off. What happened?" You know what I'm talking about?
RM: So I don't look at it as something negative. If you allow people to determine what is beauty or success, then I feel like that's when it could really start affecting you. And you be like, "Damn, you're right. Why don't I have this? Why did this person get that?" But when you have that core fan base and people that love you, they're gonna love you if you woke up tomorrow and you was blue. It makes me feel good. I think a lot of times people think that because somebody might have come out after them, that you can't be inspired by them. I remember not too long ago the media was talking about your weight, and the way you handled them and read them, like, "This is me, this is who I am, I love my body, and I look good." I was like, "Yeah! Tell 'em Tate! Say it, that's right!" We have to say that to each other. Just because the world knew of you after they knew of me, I wanted to let you know that's one of things that you did that I was inspired by. I was very proud to see that. Because a lot of times the industry, social media, and the public, there's pressure. You feel like you have to say what you think people want you to say or what's the best thing to say to get everyone on your side. And I feel like you said what you wanted to say from your heart, so thank you for that.
BT: I really appreciate that. You about to make me cry low-key. There's so much that we have to go through as women and I feel like as far as dealing with our male counterparts, for me personally, I don't really feel like there's much that I have to do to prove myself. Because when I put a pen on paper, I'm out-rapping these men.
RM: They know what the fuck it is!
BT: Period. The girls have been eating for such a long time. So I don't really feel like our male counterparts are even competition in any type of way.
RM: At all.
BT: And that's no shade, I love it, but we're out-rapping them. We're out-performing them and having to do all of this extra stuff on top of it—we're doing it in heels, makeup, wigs.
RM: All types of stuff, pregnant, kids at home! You hit it on the head. So that's some of the cons. What are some of the pros? What is something that you feel is your favorite part about being a female rapper in today's scene?
BT: One of my biggest things that I love is just being able to inspire other young girls, especially other young Black girls. Because representation is so important and for a long time, if there was nobody out there that looks like you, you might be hearing these messages, but they're not going to hit the same. Like when your mom says something to you when you're growing up and you're like, "Yeah, whatever mom, you don't know what you're talking about." And then your teacher says and it hits different. And I feel like I've been able to really touch people and the way that people reach out to me and tell me like, "Your music got me through this breakup," or "It really got me through 2020," that's one of my favorite things—just really being able to push and influence people's actual lives.
RM: I totally understand that. So you mentioned, your mom or your teachers—what would you say is your creative process then? When you go into that space, before you even get to the point where people tell you this song inspires them, what space do you have to be in to even get there? Is there a ritual that you do or anything?
BT: I don't have any rituals per se. I feel like whenever I make music, it's from a space of debriefing and decompressing for myself. It's like my own personal therapy. Like I'm talking to a therapist and the person talking back is me. So that's how I create, because even just growing up, when I first started making music when I was 13, there was a lot of music that I was making that there were things I wanted to say that I didn't really know how to express—maybe to my mom, my teachers, or to a boy that I liked in school. And it was just easier for me to put it into a song and make this abstract song about it and be like, "No, this isn't really about you." But the whole time it really is...
RM: And would you say your upbringing and your hometown play a role in your sound and the themes of your material?
BT: I definitely do think that it does. I grew up on the east side of Atlanta, [Georgia] in Decatur. I was just saying this the other day, it's crazy when you go to other places outside of Atlanta and you realize that having this many Black people in one space is not normal across America. When I travel to other places, I'm like, "Where are the Black people? I'm scared." But here it's so normal to see so many Black people from so many different walks of life. And that's the beautiful thing as well, I can see somebody that's really in the trap scene and then also see someone who's a holistic spiritual leader and they got the crystals from head to toe—and everything in between. And so for me, I think the biggest influence that Atlanta had on me is allowing me to know that I was free to do whatever and there were no limitations for me as a young Black girl. I didn't have to choose a box to fit into. I'm just who I am and the box has to conform to me.
RM: I like that. When I first came to Atlanta, as an adult, you start to notice the difference between who's who. It was so crazy. I was like, "Oh my God, everybody in the airport looks like me. Everybody in the hotels look like me." Like everywhere. And I loved going to Atlanta because I felt like, even though I know it's not true, everybody had money, everybody was good. I've never been to some of the more impoverished areas for obvious reasons—I'm from New York, you don't just travel to people's hood. I'm just gonna stay in the areas that I was in.
But I could only imagine the confidence that has to give you. Because you're right, when you live somewhere like New York where I'm from, it's a melting pot. So I've seen everything, literally on my block we had Black people that were born here. We had Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Indians, Asians, all literally within one block, so it wasn't nothing for me to know Spanish or to know different foods from other cultures. But I never knew a place like where you're from existed, and so it's dope to see now. Everybody in Atlanta is so talented and different, and not just in music, but in so many different things. And I think that some of the confidence that you have comes from that. And I could only imagine you're surprised when you visit other places like, "Wait a minute, what's up?"
BT: Yeah, literally, I'm like, "Hold on, I don't see myself out here. I feel a little crazy."
RM: I like both because I'm from a place where it's a melting pot as opposed to the opposite way around. But when I got into your world, I was just like, "Oh my God, this is so fire!" All the club owners, the restaurant owners. I aim one day maybe to have a place out there.
BT: I think you would love it. It's not New York, but I think you would like it.
RM: You know what my thing is? I definitely without a doubt would be 272 pounds my first year living there because the food, it's so good.
BT: It's so good.
RM: It's ridiculous. There's no way I would be anything but a 200 pounds and that's just that, on that. I don't even think I would care. Okay, so right now we're in a space where women are pretty much controlling the music scene. I feel like the content of the music is changing a little bit. I could be wrong, but I feel like it's changing. What does the future of rap look and sound like to you?
BT: It's definitely been already in the works of what that looks and sounds like. I think we have a lot of new up-and-coming female rappers that are curating our sound and space. But I feel like there's this uplifting, super empowering spirit. And there's not just one essence of what rap is. And I think that's a super beautiful thing that's happening right now as well. You don't have to do this one formula of what female rap sounds like. You can be an artist like myself or you can be an artist like Megan Thee Stallion, Doechii, or Doja Cat and still have that same type of impact on people's lives. And I really appreciate the fact that all of this music from women—it's just been like, "Come on girl. Let's go take over the world." You know? And I love that, music is reminding us about our power.
RM: Do you think that in a few years, or ever, this industry could be seen as a female dominated genre? But if I'm being honest, I feel like it's a female dominated genre right now.
BT: Yeah, it low-key is. I feel like people don't wanna admit it yet because they're scared, but I definitely think in a couple of years it's gonna be way more leaning towards being female dominated than male. Because when you think about it, who's buying tickets to the shows? Women. They're the ones that really wanna come out. That's why artists like Beyoncé are so successful because, who runs the world? Girls. All the girls wanna go to the Beyonce concert. It's the same for all of the female rappers. Even Lizzo, how she's been selling out these arenas. The girls are taking over.
RM: I concur. Totally agree. What are you specifically excited about? What can we expect from you in the future? What should we be having an antenna up for? Or are you just gonna drop something?
BT: I'm really excited to just continue to grow. I went through a little period of depression, I think we all did in 2020, and I stopped producing. So my last two projects have not been produced by me, but everything before that was self produced. And I wanna get back into that. So we're gonna be seeing more of that in the future. And also more of singing. For me, I just dropped the project called Mani/Pedi, that's half rap, half R&B. And that's something that I wanna lean into more.
RM: Wait, you said you produce?
BT: Yeah, I used to produce all of my music.
RM: I'm hanging up. That's it.
RM: No, I'm leaving. That's it, like God just really be playing with me. She can rap, she can sing, and she's producing? This is a lot. That's different. That's giving very much genius because I don't know too many out there that can do all three. Like, you really could go in the studio by yourself.
BT: Yeah and when I first started making music, that's what I was doing. I was by myself.
RM: Does everybody know that? Why do I not know that? I feel like everybody should know that, that should be celebrated. Like, I want my people to call you. Like let's call Tate and get me some production from her. Like what? I never knew that.
BT: Thank you. Yeah, I took a break from producing and so I think that's part of the reason why a lot of people don't know because the last two years of music that I've put out haven't been produced by myself. And so I think a lot of people have come late to the class, but it's okay as long as you came.
RM: Hey, I'm late, but don't kick me out.! But I love that, I was sitting here like "Did she just say produce?" That's amazing. I'm excited for all that you have to offer and that you're bringing. I'm glad that you are here and part of the whole woman takeover. I enjoyed talking with you and I hope I get to see you. I'm going to go back now and listen to your music now that I know that you wrote it and produced it. I have a different outlook, so now I gotta go back.
BT: Thank you so much Remy, I really appreciate you and I really appreciate you taking the time to have a conversation with me.
RM: I appreciate you as well.
BT: Once I get back producing if you need a beat for real for real, hit me up.
RM: Yes! Thank you so much. Have a good day, I'll get to see you soon hopefully.
BT: See you soon, bye bye.
Below, stream Caught Up in the Rapture—Volume 1, Part 3—curated by Baby Tate and Remy Ma.